Corruption and a Criminal’s Rights
Regardless of the identity of the alleged harasser, I agree with Will that the timing of Bobby Oliveira’s arrest is suspicious. I’d even go so far as to suggest that it’s reason for concern, given its Rhode Island political context:
The police yesterday picked up School Committee candidate Robert. T. Oliveira on a year-old arrest warrant, charging him with making harassing phone calls to a Tiverton woman who described herself as an ex-girlfriend. …
Tiverton police obtained the most recent arrest warrant on June 26 of last year after the woman complained to them about more than one call Oliveira allegedly made to her on her cell phone. …
A Newport patrolman saw Oliveira jogging on Bellevue Avenue in front of The Elms mansion shortly before 8 a.m. yesterday, said Lt. William Fitzgerald. He said the officer believed an arrest for Oliveira was outstanding and, after confirming his belief, stopped Oliveira and took him into custody. Newport turned him over to Tiverton police around 10:30 a.m. …
Neither Maltais nor Fitzgerald could specify why it took a year for the police to arrest him on a year-old warrant.
“It’s not unusual that some period of time will lapse when someone is wanted on a warrant,” said Maltais, who wasn’t sure exactly how Newport police knew to pick up Oliveira.
Fitzgerald couldn’t speak to the Oliveira case, but said that departments communicate with each other, sometimes by phone and sometimes by teletype. The information is related to patrol officers at roll call, but they may learn about warrants from other sources, he said.
Inasmuch as he’d continued to walk the streets unharassed, Bobby presumably did not know that he was a wanted man. Now, in response to some unknown stimulus, a Newport police officer happened to believe that an arrest was pending for a particular jogger, who happened to be notable on the local political stage.
Speaking from personal experience, I’m sure that the woman who filed the complaint did so with sufficiently credible evidence to justify a warrant, but the story still gives the impression that somebody out there in the state could file a report that could sit dormant until such time as an arrest would be particularly inconvenient, no matter the merits of the charge. Shouldn’t even criminals have a right to a timely arrest and fair resolution?